Well, true to their word, House Republicans proposed and passed a bill to keep Joe Biden from raiding the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
Republican bill conditioning US Strategic Petroleum Reserve releases clears House | https://t.co/PHzQHG8ID6#US #SPR #OOTT #oil pic.twitter.com/RPEf37v1Ri
— Commodity Insights Oil (@SPGCIOil) January 27, 2023
The bill Steve Scalise and the others put together was actually pretty clever. It doesn’t forbid Biden outright from raiding his favorite piggybank. It just ties his withdrawals up in certain conditions. A vote on the bill also had the added benefit of putting members of Congress on record as far as support for American energy independence went.
The Biden Administration has repeatedly said it isn’t restricting oil and gas development. But then why is it threatening to veto a House Republican bill that would tie oil releases from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to oil and gas leasing on federal land?
House Majority Leader Steve Scalise has teed up a vote this week on a bill that would forbid the Energy Department from tapping the SPR unless it develops a plan to increase oil and gas leasing commensurately. If the White House wants to draw down the reserve by 5%, it has to lay out a plan to increase the share of federal land leased for oil and gas production by 5%.
The bill is intended to put Members of Congress on record for or against U.S. oil and gas production. Democrats in the last Congress were allowed to pretend that they backed more U.S. drilling but never had to take a vote.
Needless to say, Biden was already threatening a veto even before a single “aye” was heard on the floor. Gracious, it was even called “unhelpful” by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm.
…Despite passing the House, the legislation is all but certain never to be signed into law. It lacks the support to pass the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has said Biden will veto it if it ever comes to his desk.
Days before the vote, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said at a White House press briefing that the bill “would impose unnecessary, unhelpful restrictions on when the SPR can be used to help provide supply.”
“It would not offer any tangible benefits to the American people,” Granholm told reporters. “Instead, it would interfere with our ability to be responsive during an international emergency … a natural disaster or a pipeline outage at home.”
But vote they did, and it passed on a straight party-line with one bold Democrat crossing the aisle to add his “aye” to the yes column – a Mainer, no less!
…The measure passed 221-205, with one Democrat – Rep. Jared Golden of Maine – joining Republicans in voting for the bill.
House passes H.R. 21, 221-205.
It’s the second of two SPR bills introduced by Energy and Commerce Chair @cathymcmorris––this one designed to limit Biden’s authority to draw down the U.S. emergency oil stockpile (& make sales conditional upon releasing land for oil/gas drilling) https://t.co/XyPeC8CqFG
— Breanne Deppisch (@breanne_dep) January 27, 2023
Then the righteous “certain things need to be above partisan politics” pearl-clutching for the cameras began…
I have long believed that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve ought to remain above partisan politics. House Republicans’ misguided SPR bill would only further politicize a strategic stockpile that is crucial to our national security. https://t.co/IcrUsrrFFY
— Steny Hoyer (@RepStenyHoyer) January 27, 2023
…along with the outright…um…”smoke blowing” is the kindest thing I can think of.
The bill in the House does NOT bar tapping into strategic reserves. It links SPR releases with a commensurate increase in the share of federal land leased for oil & gas production. @POTUS is being willfully deceptive, which is unacceptable. https://t.co/sWe52UJdyy
— Jim Donaldson (@JimDonaldsonJr) January 27, 2023
The constant tapping of the SPR has everyone worried except for the White House, and someone has to try to get a handle on the wanton waste somehow.
…The Biden administration last year drained the SPR more than any other president in modern history, selling off 180 million barrels of oil to counter supply snags brought on by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
As a result stocks of federal oil this month dropped to half the reserve’s capacity of 714 million barrels, the lowest level since 1983.
‘More than 250 million barrels of oil, approximately 40% of the reserve, has been drawn down in less than two years—more than all former presidents in history, combined, all to cover up historically high gas prices in an election year,’ Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and co-sponsor of the bill, said on the House floor. ‘That’s irresponsible.’
A previous bill Republicans had introduced trying to contain the damage did pass with bipartisan support and removed China from the purchasing approval list.
…The bill came after House Republicans earlier this month voted to ban the president from selling SPR reserves to China. With that vote 113 Democrats joined Republicans in voting for the bill. An amendment on Friday’s bill expanded the ban from just China to include more U.S. adversaries like Russia and Iran.
Senate Republicans want to introduce companion legislation, but it remains to be seen if Chuck Schumer will allow it. He is going to have to allow them to consider the House bill as passed, and then count on Biden’s veto pen to save the day for Democrats.
…The White House on Monday threatened to veto the bill, no doubt in part because it knows it may be hard for Senate Democrats such as Montana’s Jon Tester, Nevada’s Jacky Rosen and New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich to oppose it if it passes the House. This looks like a rare case of the House GOP being smart.
A lot of this is, in effect, spinning their wheels as it’s probably dead on arrival in the Senate and for sure on Biden’s desk. But no worries, as it really seems the McCarthy House is active and laying down the markers, right out of the gates, regardless.
And I really like how McCarthy is keeping his word about an “open rule” on legislation, post-Pelosi. That’s how it’s supposed to work.
…The Friday bill passed after hours of voting on amendments, as the legislation was voted on through ‘modified open rule,’ meaning any House member could offer their own amendment. It was the first time in seven years legislation had been voted on that way after Republicans took control.
Today in the House of Representatives, for the 1st time since May 2016, we operated with a modified open rule – where members offered amendments, germaneness was determined, 24 got votes – each vote took only 2 minutes… #MakingTheHouseGreatAgain #StandUpForAmerica
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) January 27, 2023
I like it a lot.